Concerns Over Unified School Class Sizes

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(Memphis) There are many controversies dealing with the new merged school district.

One of those is an old Shelby County policy controlling class size.

It will put the ball in the administration's court when it comes to student numbers, not the board.

“We just simply moved that policy over to rules and regulations so it's just from an administrative standpoint now and has been moved out of the policy stand point,” said School Board Member Kevin Woods.

When it comes to making budget, class sizes are a big part of saving or spending money.

To cut the budget enough for the county to afford the merge, it had to increase class sizes in some areas since MCS schools have a higher student teacher ratio than Shelby County.

Former Transition Planning Commission Chairperson Barbara Prescott says all classrooms are still well within the state requirements, and larger sizes aren't necessarily a bad thing.

“What the research really shows is that the biggest difference in the student's ability to learn in the classroom, is having an outstanding teacher,” said Prescott.

She says in Shelby County, there will only be a difference of one or two students more than last year, “There's not really much conclusive research that shows that`s going to make a huge difference."

She says most classes are still in the low 20s in most cases.

The board also plans to take up the student dress code policy, and Woods says he expects the Shelby County policy of letting each school’s administration, principals and parents decide.

He says next year everyone’s uniforms and dress code will stay the same, and the new policy won’t begin until 2014.